Like many others in the Northern Hemisphere, I spent a good deal of time this past week sitting rather uncomfortably with my neck strained and my eyes trained upon the night sky in search of Perseids. Clouds and rain kept me inside a couple of nights but otherwise I was making a concerted effort to make that brief connection to the vastness of the universe. Isn’t it such a thrill? To see that beautiful streak of light as the meteor makes its violent entrance into the atmosphere? And it’s over in a flash.
So true of so many things.
Shawn and I went camping at our favorite secret spot this week, too - our third summer in a row now. Just one night, but what a restorative time it was and always is. The campsite is only accessible by boat (and perhaps by land on some sort of off-road vehicle) so with both of our kayaks laden with food, shelter, bedding, firewood and other necessities, we made our way across choppy waters (wow, was it windy!) to the sandy beach of our little bit of paradise.
We are not the only ones who know of the joy of this place. It is well known among locals and there is always evidence of others’ use of the site. During last summer’s trip, we were even visited by and shared an overnight with an entire Boy Scout troop from Connecticut who discovered the site while seeking respite from their days-long sojourn upon the Saco River.
This time, we were disheartened to find the old fire pit almost entirely dismantled and even more broken glass scattered about than usual. So, with very little discussion, we set about repairing our beloved place. We gathered up stones and Shawn rebuilt the fire pit. I scoured the beach for and collected all the broken glass I could find, then gathered kindling. With just about an hour or so of work, we had the site looking beautiful again. Then we set up camp and then finally began to relax into the rest of the day.
While walking along the shore, a shiny bit of something caught my eye. Another shard of glass, or a piece of mica or quartz? No – a single dragonfly wing.
At first, I didn’t even want to pick it up for fear that I might damage something that appeared to be so delicate. But when I did finally reach for it and began to handle it, I was baffled by how incredibly strong and intricate it was. What a treat!
If I had blinked, I would’ve missed it.
I never sleep well when camping, not only because nothing is quite as comfortable as my warm cozy bed, but also because of the intoxication of being submerged in nature. Even lying on our bedrolls through the night, there is still so much to absorb – the cry of the loons on the pond; the gentle lapping of the waters on the shoreline; the incessant hum of the crickets; then, in the morning, the cacophony of birdsong; the knock-knock-knock of a single woodpecker working in the woods; the rustling of a chipmunk; a breeze whistling through pine boughs.
So many treasures under foot, like the weeds in my friend Duncan’s paintings that I wrote about last week, surrounding me at every moment. Yes, I must blink – oh, but do I have to? There are just so many exquisite and fleeting things to experience in this life and I don’t want to miss any of it if I can help it.
Why do I feel this urgency all the time? Probably because watching both of my parents pass away made me realize how brief my own life really is, and probably also because I’m making up for the years I was trapped in an abusive relationship in which there was very limited opportunity to experience life this fully. Those years felt like one long protracted blink of an eye – and what I wish for now is to keep my eyes and ears open and ready, trained on the beauty of this world, this life, for as long as I possibly can.